Iraq top court clears way for election recount

by WorldTribune Staff, June 25, 2018

Iraq will undertake a hand recount of all 11 million ballots from last month’s parliamentary elections amid widespread allegations of voter fraud.

An Iraqi voter has his biometric voting card checked with his fingerprint upon arriving at a polling station in Kirkuk. / AFP

Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court cleared the way for the recount last week by ruling the parliament’s decision to manually recount votes is constitutional.

Judge Medhat al-Mahmoud read a statement to the press that said the decision to recount the votes by hand was “correct.”

The May 12 elections marked the first time ballots were counted electronically in Iraq.

A hand recount is likely to take weeks, or longer, and promises to delay the process of forming a new government.

Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s Sayirun (On the Move) coalition, which joined forces with several other parties including Iraq’s Communist Party, was declared the winner of the parliamentary elections.

Al-Sadr called on his supporters to respect the recount ruling. “I call on everyone to show restraint and deference to the law, even if they are not convinced by it.”

One attorney reportedly said the recount would get Iraq “70, 80, 90 percent” of the way to having an untainted result.

Kurdish parties called the recount a “healthy step” towards restoring faith in the country’s political process.

“Thank God, the federal court accepted what we had appealed against and called for. It annulled the decision made by the parliament,” Ismael Mandalawi, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)’s lawyer told Rudaw.

UPI reported earlier this month that four people had been arrested in connection to a fire at a Baghdad warehouse that was believed to contain election ballots. What was called by many observers a “suspicious” fire broke out just days after Iraq’s parliament ordered the recount.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the June 10 fire was part of a plot to sabotage the vote and hurt Iraq’s democracy.

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